Elaborating on Population Health Inequalities in the United States: Maternity Care in the Era of Free Market System of Neoliberalization
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While there is an extensive array of literature examining the impacts of neoliberal markets on population health and social outcomes, few studies have focused on the impact of neoliberalism on maternity care and women’s health in the United States. We provided a critical review of the literature by examining mechanisms linking the emergent neoliberal market systems to maternity care, infant health and women’s health outcomes while assessing the population-wide shifts in risk exposures associated with contexts of emergent neoliberalized markets in the country over the last thirty years. The findings from studies showed a correlated pattern of increasing poor health outcomes among women in the United States compared with other industrialized countries over the past three decades. Overall, the health system in the country does not make provisions for some of the most important determinants occurring prior to pregnancy, and often fails to place these concerns in the context of women’s health across the life course. Increasing medicalization of pregnancy and birthing processes reflect a dominance of the market-oriented approach of the country’s health system. We conclude that many aspects of the emergent neoliberal market influences bear greatly on maternity care and women’s health in particular. We further propose that it is only the collective decisions of society (particularly governments at different levels) that can consciously redirect and modify policy interventions to benefit women over the life course rather than on specific periods of pregnancy and childbirth.